首先，宣教就是神運行的方式(the mission is the way of God)，你可以看到耶穌說：「你怎樣差我到世上，我也照樣差他們到世上。」（約翰福音17:18）所以父神差遣子，祂差遣聖靈，所以是神開始了宣教使命。這是一個大大的擁抱，神向我們每一個人都敞開祂的懷抱。這是宣教，教會要繼續去擁抱，向這個世界敞開，去擁抱每個人，每個人類、每個文化、每個思想方式。不單單只為了人類，也要去祝福宇宙萬物。
使徒的「傳承」不斷延續，但使徒的「身份」具有獨特性。耶穌總與祂的使徒在一起，你可以看見祂不是一個人。祂總是與使徒在一起，使徒們是耶穌基督平日生活的見證，也是耶穌基督釘十字架後復活升天的見證，這說明他們的的獨特性。使徒之後，其他人都不具有使徒身分。我們尊榮他們「等同使徒」(equal to the Apostles)，但他們仍不是使徒。十二使徒具有獨特性，他們領受聖職進行聖禮儀、赦免罪、為人施洗。藉著按手，他們將神的恩典傳給他們的繼承者，也就是主教們，延續至今。這也就是教會稱為「使徒所傳承下來的教會」(the Apostolic Church)的原因。
Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography
2014.11.16 Luke 8 and Apostle Matthew – The Apostolic Mission of the Church
1 Corinthians 4:9-169 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. 14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
The Gospel of Matthew 9:9-13 At that time, as Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Fr. Jonah’s Sermon:
The Gospel today is about how Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist was called to be an apostle. It is so simple, and sometimes, how to say, how gentle, the way that God is calling us.
It is important that most of the important that most of the Apostles were called when they were working at their jobs or studying the Bible, like Bartholomew. And we know that Matthew was a tax collector, and he writes this very humbly, and in those times that was not an honorable job since the tax collectors were thieves. But Jesus passed over that and just told him, “Follow me.”
And it is very important that Jesus is not calling the kind of people that we would think He would call, like monks or somebody who studies the Law or the Bible. Instead He calls a person that nobody would think He would call: a tax collector to be one of the Apostles? So, do not say that Jesus does not care about our job. Allow me to say that even if someone is a prostitute or something like that, God is calling them always, because God sees the heart, sees the attitude and not the external behavior. And it was very strange, this call of Jesus and His presence, the opening, because Jesus started this, He initiated it, and it had a very tremendous result in Matthew: he left everything. Imagine that if somebody worked in a bank or the tax office of the government and somebody came to him and told him to leave his job, his money, everything, and follow Jesus Christ. We must see this thing, what made him leave everything? He did not see a miracle; nothing special happened in his office.
And the other point is, why did Jesus call him? Of course I cannot explain everything; we don’t know all the things. But from the response we see that Matthew was worthy of the call of Jesus Christ. I don’t know many people who are bankers or who work on Wall Street, making money, who would be willing to leave their job and just follow some poor teacher. And this is actually something that makes us followers, and even closer followers like the Apostles, this absolute trust in Jesus Christ. And you see, Jesus did not promise anything to him. He did not say to him, “If you follow me, you will have more money,” or anything else. Indeed it was the opposite.
What crazy love was this that when Jesus approached, this crazy love was in Matthew’s heart. And this crazy love made him leave everything and follow Jesus Christ to the end. And we must understand that we are Christians because of this crazy love. I asked somebody recently why he believed in God. He said, “Well, something must be up there,” and I said that this was not the correct reason. But this is not the way to know God. As I have told you, the demons know God in this way, as power, and as a logical necessity, that there is a logical necessity for God to exist. We are Christians because love God, because we love the Holy Trinity: this is why. And this is our proof.
And it is very important that Jesus is not calling Matthew to totally abandon everything. He is calling each of us, and don’t be afraid, He is not calling us to do things we cannot do, because Jesus is not asking us to do things that we cannot afford to do. He does not put us in a big temptation, where we would say, “No.” For the rich young man who came to Jesus and said that he had done everything and what should he do now to be perfect, Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, follow me.” But very sadly he left Jesus because he his heart was his money.
But don’t think that Jesus would ask such a big sacrifice from you. It is already too much that you come to the church. This is not good to say, “too much,” but today, for somebody to come to the church, I consider it to be a very big thing because people today don’t want to come to the church. They don’t care. And don’t think that God is asking you for a big sacrifice; He is asking you for just a small one. What is this small thing? You see what Jesus said when they accused him because Matthey had asked him to his house and all the other felons came and they were eating with Jesus Christ; He said, “Don’t think that I came here for the righteous person. I came for the sinners.” But actually, who is a righteous person? Why does Jesus say this? He says this, “Remember what the Law says, I want mercy, not sacrifice.” Some mercy is what God is asking from us. To be merciful to the others first, and don’t catch them by the neck. And this mercy, this merciful attitude, it is the center of the Gospel. Saint Isaac the Syrian says, “What is the pure heart?” Somebody might think it is the heart that has no bad imaginations about men or women or things like that. But it’s not this. It is, he says, “The merciful heart.” It is the heart that has mercy for all the universe, for all the creation. And because of this, he says that the heart feels as if it is burning when he sees somebody or something suffer. We start from something, even the love between the husband and the wife and after some years of marriage it comes that one has mercy for the other. Because the love that is wounded has almost disappeared, and then what remains is some mercy. You must remember that a human being without mercy is worse than a very wild animal. And it is also because of this mercy that we do this Liturgy, because this Mercy is for all the universe; it is not only for you. The grace of God from this table, this altar goes to all the lands, to all the creatures to all the creatures, to everything, to all the souls. And it comes to you also, to your environment, to your difficulties, to your tragic or happy situations.
So to come back to Matthew today, remember that if you are not able to do even a very small thing for God, how could you do a big thing? You see, here we don’t take money, everything is free, so I ask sometimes some small things, not for money, because it is nothing. But people do what they want to do, the way they want to do it. This is not good. It shows and attitude of control, that, “I know. I want to control here.”
I will say to you a few things about the Apostles because we hear this in the Gospel and today we celebrate one of the great Apostles. You must know that an apostle is somebody who is sent. It is a Greek word meaning, I send somebody. And the apostolic mission is the apostolic job of the church. And especially here in Taiwan, we must remember that we are not just a parish church. And actually there is no parish church. The Church is also a mission, always. Some people may say that they need a church just to fulfill their religious needs. This is a very big mistake and a heretical idea. The Church is not just to help people fulfill their religious needs, which means, well: “I’m afraid, and I need some God and I need some kind of sacrament, so as to be OK with this part of my life.”
But the mission first is the way of God. You see, Jesus Christ says, “As the Father sent me, so by the same way I send you into the world.” So, God the Father sends the Son, He sends the Holy Spirit, so God is He who starts the mission. It is a big hug that God is opening to each one of us. And this is the mission, for the Church to continue this hug and to open to the world, and to embrace everyone, every human being, every culture, every way of thinking. And to bless the universe also, not just human beings.
When I was at a university recently for some lecture and I was speaking about happiness, they told me that what I was talking about was the Western way of happiness, and they told me that, “We the Chinese, have our way, inside of us. We don’t let it out.” I asked them why they hid it inside themselves and why didn’t they let it go out? They were surprised at this question and they could not answer it, but they insisted that it could not be like the Westerners who express it and write about these things. I explained to them that they are self-enclosed. They enclose themselves; they are not opening to the other. And it was a lesson about globalization, and if you want globalization, then of course you will open yourself to others and other cultures. You will be always in dialogue. And as you see, God is not keeping his love to Himself; He is opening to us. We did not go to God; He came to us. Not only did He come, but He wanted to come, He wanted to become human. And he wants, he likes very much the food of life. So this makes the mission the very fact of the Church. A church without a mission is not an Orthodox church.
Something last, the Apostles are unique. Jesus is always together with His Apostles; you see He is not an individual. He is always with the Apostles, and the Apostles are the witnesses of the life, the cross and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are unique from this point of view. After the Apostles, the others are not Apostles, we honor them as equal to the Apostles, but they are not Apostles. The Apostles are very unique, these twelve who received the priesthood to make the Liturgy, to forgive sins, and to baptize people. And they gave his grace of God to their successors by their hands, continuing to today. This is why the Church is called the Apostolic Church.
Especially in Taiwan, this is very important. Why? Because we can see churches everywhere, like the two churches downstairs from us And if you say to them “Apostolic,” they don’t know anything about that. It was just somebody who bought a Bible and he opened a room and he called it a church. But this is not a church. A church is not a philosophical society that believes something, in Jesus Christ or some other idea. A church is the living body of Jesus Christ; it is Jesus Christ Himself continuing through the centuries, first by the Apostles, and then by the power they transmitted. It is like a fire: Jesus gives it to the Apostles and the Apostles to their successors, and so on till today. And so a church that is not an Apostolic church is not a church. We do not say they are bad people. They love Jesus Christ, but they are not a church, they are something else, I don’t know what. And it is very important to know this and to explain this to others because here in Taiwan, they say, “A church, so old?” But yes, because we have the catalogues in the main towns of who ordained whom, of course.
And it is not only the historical continuity; it is that the Apostles gave the living Jesus Christ to the Church. So it is not just a philosophy; it is the life of Jesus Christ, the teachings, the way of life, which continues to today. We did not change anything, though maybe we made the clothes better. This [his garments] used to be an ancient type of clothing like everybody had; now it has become more beautiful, but it is the same. And the last thing, which is interesting to you, for some of you today because they have this title, it is the synergos, the helper, the colleagues. Apostle Paul says, “All and my colleagues, Timothy, Lucius and so on”. These are those who help in a very special way, those who have dedicated their lives to work for the mission of the Church. And not only Timothy, sometimes he says about Luke, who was his doctor He says, my helpers, my colleagues I wish and I hope that there will be more than two or three people who are here and that they have this honor, that there are more people to help our mission. And God will write their names with this title, colleague and helpers in the mission as it is written for Timothy, for Titus, and for many others.
Any questions, please. OK, [from next Sunday, for the people who want to stay after the lunch, we can have some coffee and a dialogue about, talking about some subjects that are interesting.] May the Holy Trinity protect all of us. Amen.
Recorder: Prof. Baker
 Hosea 6:6
 See Romans 16:21 for example.